Swimming with dolphins in Florida

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Have decided to bite the bullet (and sell a kidney) and take the kids to Florida for the holidays this year. One of the items on the "Things We Have To Do" list, is swim with a dolphin.

 

Sounded like an excellent idea and then I started looking into the places offering this experience. Lots of good and bad about the different operators and how the dolphins are treated. So I wanted to ask if any TT'ers have done the dolphin swim thing and could recommend any particular venue? We will be staying both in Miami and Orlando, so anywhere in or near either of these locations, or indeed in between, is an option.

 

Thanks for any suggestions

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Friends of ours went here: http://www.discoverycove.com/ and they said it was amazing. Costs a fortune, though -- maybe you can sell off part of your liver, too ;)

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That was one of the places that I looked into and it does have an excellent rating on Tripadvisor. However, some of the recent negative reviews were pretty scathing about the treatment of the dolphins, which put me off a little. The $1000 charge for a single day entry also made my eyes water.

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Mr smith is right. Discovery Cove is a great day and yes it is expensive! We are originally from FLA!

 

You must make reservations and probably pay in advance. They fill up quickly because only 300 visitors are allowed at one time. It is 2 workers per visitors ratio. However, everything is included, snorkel, mask, towels, buffet lunch etc... other than liquor drinks. They also furnish sunscree that is bio gradable for the water so do not bring your own they will ask that you use theirs. Also, if you go make sure you are there when the doors open @ 9am. They close the park around 5-6pm and it is a short day if you get there late.

 

The park itself is man-made. They a float around the park, an open bird sanctuary, private beaches, snorkeling with little fishes, swimming with string rays. It is safe, lifeguards on duty, clear water! A really great day and worth the money!

 

Next place is in Islamorada, the upper FLA keys. About 1.5hours driving south from Miami. The keys are great! Everything you think of when you think of FLA! beautiful drive down too. Lots of seafood, local bars/hang-outs and local art. For swimming with the dolphins the Theater of the Sea is a great experience. Much cheaper the DC but it is not an all day event. The place looks like a tourtist trap but the dolphin show and dinner are a nice time, especially for a family. http://www.theaterofthesea.com/

 

The Lorielei is a great place to stay or stop for the beach/kids to swim, to eat at restaurant area or watch sunset. They just re-did the area and it is beautiful. http://keysdining.com/lorelei/

 

Happy Travels.

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I'll save you my usual lecture on why doing this kind of thing is stupid.

 

Instead, I've provided 2 links which you really ought to read

 

http://mundoazul.org/habitats-species/whales-and-dolphins/freedom-for-dolphins/swimming-with-captive-dolphins-is-dangerous/

http://the.honoluluadvertiser.com/article/2003/Jul/18/ln/ln08a.html

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@DandL - thanks for the info and tips. The price I quoted was for a family of 4.

 

If it was a $1000 per person, we wouldn't be having this discussion :-)

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Watch "The Cove" and then decide if you want to feed into this unethical industry. Plenty to do in Florida without needing to swim with dolphins. Save yourself the money.

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Forget Discovery Cove. It costs a fortune, you only get 30 minutes interaction with the Dolphin and there's a group of 6 of you in the water at the same time.

 

Your money would be better spent here THE DOLPHIN RESEARCH CENTER. Been twice with the family, the place is a non-profit charity setup to look after these beautiful creatures. A day visit will get you a fantastic insight in to their lives and you can even book a 1:1 Dolphin Encounter (30 minute swim/interaction).

 

The Dolphins are treated so well there that each time they have a hurricane warning in the keys, they lift the nets and set them free. After the storm is over they return to the Research Center.

 

Can't praise the staff and facility enough. Money well spent and it's in the Keys! Well worth the drive down.

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If you're ever down that way, you can go and do this in NZ or Oz. Have been with both companies - both times was open water, no nets, totally wild and luck of the draw. Couldn't be doing with the fun park kind of thing.

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If the dolphin event does not work out, you can also try http://www.swimwithmanatees.com/ . Of course, you can find other businesses who offer a similar service, but swimming with manatees is also an experience in itself.

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Watch "The Cove" and then decide if you want to feed into this unethical industry. Plenty to do in Florida without needing to swim with dolphins. Save yourself the money.

 

Uhuh, Why is the industry unethical? Ric" O'Barry was one of the original flipper trainers - thats worth a film in itself about the training methods he and others used. A perfect case of Pot. Kettle. Black.

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